Coffee + Art + Friends : Stuart Breidenstein

Coffee.Stuart.PAINTED

Stuart Breidenstein

Designer • Beauty Lover • Material Explorer • Creative Problem Solver 

 

My favorite moment is when something finally comes together. You reach that crux and everything falls into place. That’s my favorite moment. I used to experience it with music more, when you add something or take out some ingredient so you have that instant where it comes together and everything falls into place. It feels like “Yes!”

You’ll be struggling with something and then a certain element comes into it and everything just flows. It’s like “Yes, now it’s working!” You can struggle your whole way through a project and get to the end of it and still not be satisfied. Or you can struggle and struggle and some cool element will happen and the rest of it goes pretty fast. You can struggle for 8 hours and then that moment comes and 20 minutes later you’re done. You put it on the shelf and think, “That’s great!”

I grew up in a creative household. My mom played piano and did different art projects. She would go to the craft store and find a new materials and bring it home and we would make stuff. My dad made jewelry when I was a kid. My brother and sister are both creative. I don’t remember any time where I first thought “Oh, Art is something…” It was just there.

My parents sent me to guitar lessons. There was always music in the house. I grew up in a creative environment. There were times when I thought “Oh, this is what I am going to do for a living.” That became more and more concrete as I got older. At this point there is no other option. I can’t not be an artist.

I consider myself more of a crafter than artist, I think. I don’t focus on Art for Art’s sake. I like functional Art. I like functional objects that are esthetically appealing.

I have to preach to friends and other artists I know about selling stuff. There is this stigma around making art to sell or selling art. Same thing in music. There is definitely a stigma to selling stuff— selling out. But you have to do something for a living and if you want to make art and you can keep doing that and you don’t want to be distracted by another process, then you have to figure out what you do into something people can buy. It usually involves compromise, which is a dirty word. But I think if you are willing to compromise some of your work, you don’t have to compromise your whole life.

I can remember my mom bringing home this stuff you would make a wire frame and you would dip it in this stuff. It would make a bubble film, it kind of looked like stained glass, but a thin and delicate film. At the time, I thought “this is cool and weird.” I’d never seen anything like it.

I remember her also bringing home Sculpty. I haven’t used it in ages. And then when I was in my 20’s we had all these wooden shingles outside my house. It was kind of leftover from the roof— my dad was a true do-it-yourself-er, before DIY was trendy. I cut them up and made them into earrings. I remember cases like that where it was like “Oh, this material is fun to work with.” 

We used to make our own toys out of lead. We’d melt down lead and make it into toys. We would use this rubbery mold and shape it around cars and stuff and we would melt down sinkers and stuff and pour it into the molds. When I hear people being upset about lead in their toys paint, I’m like “That’s nothing! We actually made toys out of lead!”

I am inspired by materials a lot. If I am out and about and I find a cool material, I immediately start thinking “What can I do with this? What’s it ductility like? Can I drill though this? Can I bend it?”  A lot of times, I’ll have something I’ve designed in one material and I’ll use it as an algorithm and I’ll throw this other material into it and see how it affects the outcome. If I am working with wood and I throw plastic into that equation, how that is different?

When I was growing up, my mom was an antiques dealer and she would collect these resin bangles from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. I would go around to auctions with my mom and dad. They weren’t into it, but I was really into the mid-century stuff, the shapes and colors, slightly organic, stretched and stylized shapes. The curves. The simplicity. It wasn’t an ornate era. There was no baroque-ness to the mid-century stuff. I liked that. I have a lot of that influence and those ingredients in my design aesthetic.

I have a decent local following. I kind of have to keep doing new stuff. If I don’t, why would anyone want to come in? That works for me because I get bored easily. I have to create new stuff all the time. For me it works that I get to keep being creative and coming up with new stuff in my retail world. The other side is that there are things that sell really well and I can’t stop making them. Luckily, they are easy things to make.

I think maybe people see Art as a luxury or something that is an extra unnecessary thing on top of society. In a lot of ways it is a necessary thing. It is necessary for artists— every artist would be a crazy person if we couldn’t make stuff. The fact that you can use it as therapy is evidence it is necessary. It is also necessary to society because what would be the point of anything if we were’t creating beauty? It’s in everything— in everything not created by nature has some sort of Art in it. Even in engine design— the thought that goes into it, the symmetry, the lines and curves. It is just a necessary part of human existence.

It is also, on a more local, pragmatic cultural level, when we have Art in our culture, in our municipal life, it is kind of a signal that this is place you enjoy. This is a society that is healthy, because if you ever go to places where there is not much thought in the Art and you don’t see art around, even if you don’t notice is consciously, you notice it subconsciously and know something is missing. When you come here and there is roundabout art and there are places like The Workhouse which is all about Art, there is no way, at least subconsciously you don’t think, “Oh that’s a really good little society they have there.”  

As artists, we are in the habit of being creative. Creativity and money are two different sides of the same coin. You can have a problem and you can throw creativity at it or you can throw money at it. For us creatives, we don’t have a lot of money, so we are in the habit of being creative. No matter what it is, feeding ourselves, clothing ourselves, transporting ourselves, housing ourselves, entertain themselves— we creative people are in the habit of throwing our creativity at a problem. 

July 14, 2016 • The Workhouse • Bend, Oregon

 

 

 

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Coffee + Art + Friends : Sweet Pea Cole

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Sweet Pea Cole

Artist • Maker • Gap Chaser • Awesome Idea Generator 

 

My favorite thing about Art? Oh, my gosh. Sometimes, it’s that feeling that you get when you look at something and you can’t believe the talent that it took to make and conceive. I get immediately drawn to that. I return to Art when there is something else there— a story or some sort of magic to it. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know how to get it, but when it is there, it is so obviously there.

There were things that I thought, “Wow, that’s so cool!” But the first piece I remember feeling that way about is a photograph by Sally Mann. It was her middle daughter with raspberries on her fingers. It’s a color photo. I don’t know what it was about that, but when you asked that is what first came to me. There have been other things. Like, “Oh, my god moments”, like when I first saw Chuck Close’s work. Anytime I see Chuck Close’s work! There is a magic there but there is also a skill level that is mind boggling. Color, shape, layers, execution. Most often it comes back to execution for me.

I tend to struggle with that as an artist, because I have ideas that I think are awesome! It’s that thing that Ira Glass talks about where you know what is good and you know where you are and you can see that gap. I see people who have transcended that gap and that is what draws me to it.

I don’t remember starting making art. I was always making something or writing something or putting together something. I was always doing something! I have a very creative family and a pretty traditional family. My father was a business professor, so he was not saying, “Run off and join the theatre” by any means. But the act of being creative in all avenues was always there.

There were times when I took my art making more seriously than other times. It’s cyclical as far as I need to make ends meet and then other times it’s like, “Fuck it! I don’t need to make ends meet.” I’m not making ends meet, so why try? I can either give up what I love to make ends meet and still not make ends meet. Or I can do what I love and not make ends meet.

I have recently started to enjoy the process. I have always been very product oriented, but instead I have taken a step back and really am enjoying what I am doing. For example, I had to reclaim a bunch of screens and re-prep them last night., And in the past I would have been like “I just have to get this done to get to the good part of printing.” But last night, I was like, “it’s so nice outside!” and I put on my gas mask on and my ear phones and protective goggles and was like, “isn’t it fun to be outside!?” Moving away from being on the computer– the deep, deep appreciation of every minute I am not staring at a computer screen. So, to have those moments where they are not “look at what I did today” and still I enjoy it. I am more aware of the process. Through my conversations with others, I am able to be a little broader visioned, a little stepped back. This is cool to have this dialogue. This is helping me in a way that is very special. It’s a process.

I really want more people to understand what goes into making art. Maybe you don’t have original paintings on your wall, but everything is based on that original idea. I know so many creative people that have talent and they work so hard. I wish our culture as a whole would appreciate it more. People are reaping the benefits of art and they are not aware of the sacrifices that were made for those pieces to exist.

It’s exciting to see people come into The Workhouse and be excited to buy something handmade. It means they are appreciating and valuing the work we are doing here.

It’s not easy to be a creative person. You are constantly pushing yourself to do something that is different, either for you or for what has been done before— so its a constant struggle and it’s hard work to do that.  I think people think oh, that would be nice to sit around. It’s not eating bonbons!

You don’t have to go buy expensive Art or fund Kickstarters. That’s not the only way to show you value creative people in the culture. I personally am very fueled by seeing delight in others. Sometimes, it’s just showing up and engaging. Saying “I like that.” That means a lot! Especially to someone who is struggling and for them to know their art still brought delight to somebody. That is a valuable thing.

July 7, 2016 • The Workhouse • Bend, Oregon

Coffee + Art + Friends

ABOUT THIS.

I turned 41 this year. And just in time, too. The existential crisis that has been the last two years of my life was getting boring.

“Forty-one-derful” is what my friends have dubbed it. I made it over the hump. Again. And there will be plenty of humps coming, but right now, it’s nice to coast on happiness.

Part of that is my friends and the world I am circling in these days. Sharing a studio with Allison, collaborating with Ori. It’s exactly why I wanted to start of my Coffee blog series again. More this.

So, I sent out a message and my friends answered. I asked them to have coffee with me, talk about Art, which, for me, means talking about life. I took photos of them and created the portraits that accompany each post.

The first time around with the coffee conversations, I needed inspiration to keep going. I was coming off of a long stretch of bleakness. I had just ended working at a job I had been immersed in and had somehow lost myself in. And not the good “I lost myself”– like I was in my studio and the sun was perfect and Nina Simone was on the radio and I was flying above the atmosphere with a paint brush in my hand. I completely lost myself– I forgot who I was and what I had to offer the world or even understand if I had anything to offer at all.

Those first sets of interviews were different than this second set. The first set, over three years ago, were about feeling safe to try something new. This second set seems more like a result of having finally embraced that creative abyss I found myself in and going with it.

Sharing a morning coffee or afternoon kombucha has allowed me to be inspired through out my day to day, to think about new things. To look in new directions. And to look back into old directions with new eyes.

I know– that’s a lot for coffee and asking just 1 question: “What’s your favorite thing about Art?”

But so far, it’s working.

Look for a new interview every Tuesday and Thursday.

Teafly • June 18, 2016 • Bend, Oregon (the East side of 1st)

STUDIO TEAFLY : Register for Summer 2016

Studio Teafly Summer 2016

CLASSES ARE HELD AT UTILITU SEWING + DESIGN WHICH HOUSES STUDIO TEAFLY!

1234 NE 1st Street • Bend, Oregon

• •• • All classes are 3 hours long + run for 5 days! • •• • 

•• • •• Each class is $125 plus a $15 supply fee •• • ••

• • • Morning classes (AM) run 9AM to NOON • • •

• • • Afternoon classes (PM) run 1 PM to 4 PM • • •

• •• • •• • All classes maximum of 8 students • •• • •• •

 << •>>• •• • << • >>REGISTER FOR CLASSES HERE! << •>>• •• • << • >>

<<<•>>>•<<<•>>>

June 20 – 24: 

AM :  Ages 5-7 : The Works!!

Everyday we will explore a different medium— drawing, painting, sculpture and even photography! We will play games and have a lot of fun making a different fun art project everyday!

Monday thru Friday : 9 AM to Noon : $125 + $15 supply

PM :  Ages 8-10 : Design Your Own Coloring Book 

Students will get a chance to write a story, create a main character and then design a 8 to 12 page black and white coloring book. You will receive a hard copy plus a digital copy for you to print out in the future!

Monday thru Friday : 1 PM to 4 PM : $125 + $15 supply

 << •>>• •• • << • >>REGISTER HERE! << •>>• •• • << • >>

<<<•>>>•<<<•>>>

June 27 – July 1:

AM : Ages 8-10 : Design A Board Game

Not “bored” game — BOARD GAME!! Invent your own characters and rules and fun challenges that take your players on a journey that will be fun and exciting to play with friends! We will explore all the different aspects of board games, like various dice, spinners, rules, and board designs. And you can even make a game that involves moving around, not just moving pieces on a board!

Monday thru Friday : 9 AM to Noon : $125 + $15 supply

PM : Ages 11-14 : Intro to Photography

Students will learn some photography basics and even create a small book and slideshow featuring their photos. Each child will create a self-portrait and explore nature and street photography. Students need to bring a camera which can be an iPhone or an iPad.

Monday thru Friday : 1 PM to 4 PM : $125 + $15 supply

 << •>>• •• • << • >>REGISTER HERE! << •>>• •• • << • >>

<<<•>>>•<<<•>>>

July 18 – 22:

AM : Ages 5-7 : Nature Art!

Everyday we will explore a fun part of nature like birds or trees (because those things are awesome) and make a fun creative art project to celebrate what we love about them! 

Monday thru Friday : 9 AM to Noon : $125 + $15 supply

PM : Ages 8 – 10 : Introduction to Photography

Students will learn some photography basics and even create a small book and slideshow featuring their photos. Each child will create a self-portrait and explore nature and street photography. Students need to bring a camera which can be an iPhone or an iPad.

Monday thru Friday : 1 PM to 4 PM : $125 + $15 supply

 << •>>• •• • << • >>REGISTER HERE! << •>>• •• • << • >>

<<<•>>>•<<<•>>>

July 25 – 29:

AM : Ages 8-10 : Costumes + Cameras

Create a mythological creature, build a costume using found objects, paint, paper maché and whatever else helps you complete your vision!  You will then get an opportunity to create a series of photographs that tell your creatures origin story!

Monday thru Friday : 9 AM to Noon : $125 + $15 supply

PM : Ages 11-14 : Me, My-selfie + I Photography

Learn some photography basics and also create three different self portraits of how you see yourself, how you are magical and how you dream of yourself when you are grown-up. We will also explore iMovie and how to create a short movie featuring your images. Students must bring a camera, but can also use an iPad or an iPhone.

Monday thru Friday : 1 PM to 4 PM : $125 + $15 supply

 << •>>• •• • << • >>REGISTER HERE! << •>>• •• • << • >>

<<<•>>>•<<<•>>>

August 8 – 12:

AM : Ages 8-10 : Creating Creatures

Monsters, Mythological creatures, fairies and more! Everyday we will make some sort of creature using clay, fabric and paints! By the end of the week, you’ll have a cast of crazy creature characters!

Monday thru Friday : 9 AM to Noon : $125 + $15 supply

PM : Ages 8-10 : Puppets and Movie Making

Using fabric and paper, you will make puppet characters of your own design, write a story about them and make a short movie!! Students do not need a camera, but are welcome to bring one if they would like to have more experience working with it!

Monday thru Friday : 1 PM to 4 PM : $125 + $15 supply

 << •>>• •• • << • >>REGISTER HERE! << •>>• •• • << • >>

My Body Is Not A Democracy

My Body Is Not A Democracy

My body is not a democracy. My body is an empire and I am its dictator. You do not get a vote. There will be no coup d’etat. Rebel forces will not overthrow me. I am in charge of it forever.

You are welcome to have your opinions. And you are welcome to keep them for yourself. Please do not leave them at the gates of my empire. They will only be thrown in the incinerator, as all of my storage facilities are full.

For the last year, it has felt like there has been an attack on my body, from both the outside and the inside. When I hear the stories of young girls being raped and then bullied by other GIRLS for speaking out, I begin to think I have stepped into some strange world where Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Walker and Ani DiFranco never existed.

When I hear men speak about how women’s bodies work and their ideas for controlling them through legislation, I wonder if they have ever seen a woman’s body. I wonder if they are married and if they are, do they throw those sheets with the slit in them over their wives before they have sex? How can a man in 2013 be as old as they are, with as many children and be so ignorant? And who are the women that let them get this way?

As I look forward to 2014, I realize there is a bit of fighting we need to do. If I have to fight for my body and the freedom to govern my own beautiful empire, then I will, but I will not fight with my body any more. I will not fight with those horrid little uglies—those pests that creep into my mirrors and magazines and photographs that tell me I am too fat to be loved or be beautiful. And just so you know, the uglies attack the skinny girls, too. It is something we all have in common.

NEW RULES FOR MY EMPIRE:

Rule 1:
I will feel as fierce as I look when I dress everyday. I am a fashion revolution and my uniform is my beauty and grace and my fabulous shoes which I have the uncanny ability to find for reasonable prices.

Rule 2:
No longer will it be acceptable to compare my body to any other woman’s as I walk down the street or sit on the street car or look at magazines. Not even the, “well, at least I’m not as fat as her.” This is a punishable offense.

Rule 3:
Punishments for being human and making mistakes are now outlawed. Punishments for any offenses previously mentioned shall be a dose of self love. This may involve singing in the shower, buying new face cream or treating oneself to a donut– even though I am not a big sweets eater—there is a time and a place.

Rule 4:
When I love something another woman is wearing I will tell her, even if I don’t know her—she deserves to know that her uniform is fabulous and that our empires can be friendly allies.

Rule 5:
I will listen to young girls as they give their perspective on the world and gently remind them of my own, allowing them to come to the meadow of the feminist revolution for themselves, as we all do eventually. I will welcome them when they get there and remember that they are dictators of their own empires and are free to govern as they wish.

Rule 6:
I will remember that I am more than a body. I am a spirit, a soul, a being of light. I am but a precious moment on this earth and while that time is short, it is also powerful. I will do my best to honor the sun, the wind and the sky as they bring my existence into perspective.

You are welcome to visit my empire. We have lovely accommodations and reasonable rates. The spring here is fabulous, though we do offer various treasures year round. And just remember, you can visit, but I am the only one who gets to live here. And I am in charge.

This image is now available in a print from my Etsy store: Get it here!

Getting Back On Track…

Getting Back On Track...

I just now realize that it has been over a month since I have posted anything and I am now starting a new blog entry with the tired line of “Gee, I haven’t posted for awhile.” Sorry about that, but really writing is best when you are honest.

I have spent the last month preparing for a sale, which was a success (the photo above is from that—more later), traveling to visit family for the holidays and falling down a rabbit hole of movie watching, which if you know me then you know how easy it is for that to happen.

Years ago, I went to a doctor who told me that if I was feeling like I needed to lie in bed all day, then do, because eventually I would get out of bed and continue on. This was obviously before the invention of Netflix streaming. But she was right, I do eventually want to get up and out and carry on, though I also want to crawl back into bed and watch old movies. It was the first time in my life someone gave me permission to not feel bad about what I was feeling, but rather to feel it, move past it and know I would probably feel it again. Like most things, it is a cycle.

As I have grown older, I realize it is one of the things we don’t allow as much space for, for ourselves or for others, to just feel how we do. Feel petty, feel insecure, feel sad. It makes it easier to feel open, feel joyful, feel peaceful. Feel, get through to the other side and go forth.

Do not confuse this with dwelling. No, don’t dwell. Recently, my nephew took a massive tumble over a coffee table when I was watching him and his little sister. He is going to be 5 soon and is a big brother now, but man that tumble was rough. His sister, who is almost 1 turned into a crying puddle of Yorkies being stepped on by Great Danes. It was amazing to me how we could go from laughter to utter chaotic pain and devastation in about 5 seconds.

I put my nephew on the couch, and gave him a bag of ice for his head. I comforted him. His sister meanwhile never stopped crying. It was like she suddenly realized shit was happening and mom wasn’t there. I put her on my lap and bounced her while he cried on the couch. And then he stopped, but she didn’t. As she continued to cry, he would do a little pretend cry to keep it going. I simply looked at him and said, ‘Cry if you need to, but don’t waste your tears when you don’t have to. You will need them later.” He looked at me, scrunched up his face in utter confusion and stopped. And then of course he asked me why. We talked about how things can hurt, but eventually hurt can go away. Let it go away, I told him.

His sister eventually settled down to a low puddle of Chihuahuas being stepped on by Corgis, but it was hard to comfort her. I did my best and we continued forward. The minute her mama walked through the door, she was done crying. Feel it, get through it and go forward.

I did not mean to start this post with this story. I wanted to share with you what I have been doing for the last month, but that is pretty much it. The above photo is of 4 little girls I created portraits of when I had my sale in Bend. They are so sweet. It was a good experience for me to remember how magic happens. For those little girls that day, I made magic. “How did you get so good at that?” they would ask me, their eyes wide, mesmerized.

“The same way you get good at anything,” I’d tell them, “love it and practice.”

I feel happy when I look at their pictures. I feel happy to know that there are these 4 little girls in the world with portraits of themselves reminding them to listen to their heart and that they are utterly beautiful. Sometimes, I think I am suppose to do more, be bigger, go farther, but really, that is one of the greatest things I can do– love something, practice it. Feel it and go forward.